To what extent did Disraelis second ministry improve the condition of the people?

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Beth Walters

To what extent did Disraelis second ministry improve the condition of the people?

Disraelis second ministry needed to focus on areas that Gladstones previous ministry had failed to address. The working conditions of the people were difficult; relations between employers and workers were fractious, trade unions were not fully recognised legally, and the working population was bitter as a result of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, passed in Disraelis ministry, which prevented them from striking effectively. Their living conditions were increasingly squalid and crowded, resulting in the rapid spread of infectious diseases. Acts passed in Disraelis second ministry had good intentions, but in attempting to move away from a laissez-faire style of government, many acts were mixed in their successes due to vague, potentially tentative, legislation and their permissive natures.

Attempts to improve the living conditions of the people are evident in a number of the acts. The 1875 Public Health Act amalgamated weak and convoluted legislation regarding the condition of cities and cemented the idea of government intervention in peopleslives. The act was intended to reduce the death rate from infection. It clearly defined the powers of the town councils regarding waste, sewage and sanitation which led to greater efficiency as councils now knew who was responsible for which areas of public health. Similarly, the Artisans Dwelling Act of 1875 tried to prevent the spread of infectious disease in overcrowded slums by rebuilding them. It gave councils a sum of money to demolish slums and construct sanitary, clean housing for the masses. It was the first ever legislation dealing with social housing, and was implemented by 10% of councils. Birmingham in particular benefitted from this legislation. However, the housing the councils built could often be too expensive for previous tenants to rent, and the limited spread of the act meant that other councils still had huge, unhealthy slums in their cities unaddressed.

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The rise of industrial towns meant an increase in waste from factories, many simply dumping their waste into the rivers. Disraeli tried to prevent this by introducing an act in 1876 banning the dumping of solid waste into rivers, and restricting liquid waste to exclude polluting substances. This act was largely unsuccessful as no more specific guidelines were introduced other than harmfulor pollutingsubstances, and no punishment stipulated if a factory were to be found polluting the river. In a similar vein, the Food and Drugs act of the previous year addressed a problem introduced by people buying more ...

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